Actual Play – The Trouble with Aunt Thistle (7/25/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, Nadja Otikor, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Blades in the Dark

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Extra, Extra! Headlines in the Doskvol Gazette

Ghost train arrives in Doskvol! A train creeped into Gaddoc station last night in the hour of Coal without a soul on it! (Living or dead!)

Doskvol Spectral Society: Gifted Students or Spirit Traffickers? The Charterhall student organization suspected of trafficking rogue spirits as well as operating criminal holdings. Two business in their names, the Six Arms, and The Gills have been shutdown as this investigation continues!

City Council member assassination attempt thwarted! The culprit already in custody! In the dead of night, Derret Hawkeyes, a Skovlander terrorist, attempted to murder Lord Strangford in his own manor. Thanks to the quick action of the inspectors Hawkeyes was quickly fond and brought into custody!

Chief Scholar of the Archive of Echos Comprised by Sorcery! Lord Penderyn, appointed archive by the Emperor himself, found consorting with rogue spirits in attempts to perform the highest act of apostasy, the raising of the dead!

A new home for the Doskvol Spectral Society

Charterhall, unaware that the story was going to break, made an offer to the society that they take up an old owned by the school but currently unused, the Devil Hunter’s Hall. Thena Hellyers made the offer personally and thought it would be best of their contraptions and experiments weren’t present for all the other students to accidentally encounter (Harland and all his traps!) and for them to be able to hold meetings on their own (Too many sailors and known criminals meeting them on campus!) and they could help keep out the squatters that invariably kept showing back up in the hall and had to be chased off.

The Hall, originally called North Hook Hall and changed to the Devil Hunter’s Hall when the Spirit Wardens took it over, and and since they moved to Bellweather, it has only been used on occasion, and it’s passed through several hands until eventually gifted to the school, who were now leasing it out to the Society!

The deal didn’t come entirely without strings however. The Society needed to clean up this bad press they just got. Thena also wanted help with a hush, hush Charterhall matter. A collection of porcelain statues on loan from the Ankhayet family in U’Duasha had been stolen. As it was an open secret that the society did know many underworld figures, she hoped they could help her get them back. There was a sizable reward for their return [10 coin] and a lot of ill will if they didn’t do the job [-1 faction status if they turned her down].

A guest arrives at the Six Arms

Nadja joined us this session and brought in a new character Lulabelle, who often goes by Onye. She is a Severosi exchange student studying at Charterhall, who is also possessed by her aunt Thistle. Thistle doesn’t so much take control of Lulabelle as she does offer very loud opinions about everything she does.

We found her in the Six Arms, talking to a very well dressed patron named Orlan, who seemed equally enchanted with as with her aunt, who thoroughly disapproved him, as Orlan was possessed by a charlatan, flatterer, and con man (Nyryx). While chatting with Orlan, the proprietors arrived and started having a gang meeting right in front of her (Elke has been out of touch for a while and assumed everyone still in the building was part of the gang)!

Society Business

Elke announced both the new digs they would be moving into…and that as a matter of keeping peace with the Lampblacks, one of their members, if they were willing, would have to leave the Lampblacks. Wester, who had just had a huge fight with Ring, almost instantly volunteered. He said he was wanted here anymore and only wanted to go upstairs to have a private moment with Ring before he left, only Elke wouldn’t let him. She wanted to chaperone the meeting, and rather that be infantilized by someone mediating his breakup with Ring, he just stormed out.

They also got to talking about the stolen art, and how they would recover it, when Lulabelle raised her hand meekly and said “I’m not sure I’m supposed to be here… but also, I do know a guy named Harker, who is in Ironhook and knows a lot of fences on both sides of the prison gates.”

After the “how did she get in here?” business was settled, the Society offered to take her in, though they weren’t sure what the spirit cocoons would do to her aunt, and Lulabelle thought maybe it best not to jump into things, though she would help them.

The Score

Harker (vain, paranoid, volatile) had a bad history with Lulabelle. He had set her up to meet members of the Empty Vessel, and the deal went south, ending in them taking out retributions on him. Due to this he was not at all interested in helping his former friend, but Slides have a way of squeezing just a little bit more out of people, even their enemies. [Finding the art 1/4]

She learned from him that the person who moves high end art in Doskvol is named Cosmos. They know who is moving what, how much they are paying, and how it’s secured. Cosmos, in turn told them the only places something like those statues could be hidden is deep underground, someplace the wouldn’t be found by sorcerous Irruvians, as those statues were of the four demon princes Inixis, Khayat, Khuset, and Serekh. [Finding the art 2/4]

What rocked

Nadja was awesome playing both Lulabelle and Thistle and it was really fun to have a new player in the game adding a new perspective into the mix (including the “what the hell are you all on about?”. So good.

I had a good time with those news headlines. Each of them represented a faction (or factions) advancing their clocks and the fall out from them. They also presented some possible scores if the society was interested. A little derivative to use the paper as means of disseminating information, but in this case, it allowed me to cover large swaths of Doskvol with a single source.

What could have improved

I felt like I misread Nadja’s intention with Thistle. Originally I thought she was a justification for joining the Society (i.e. “I have this problem only they can solve”) an so, in order to onboard her has fast as possible, I immediately offered up the possibility of them solving that problem, which I realized later, was an integral part of her character. I think I steamrolled past what would have been a lot of fun to build up to. It could have been Lulabelle learning about the society and finally telling them about her aunt and then deciding what to do about her, if anything. Instead I started it letting the other players know and it was quickly offered that they could exorcise her immediately. She declined and we moved on but I did feel like I was stealing some of her thunder.

I think the Wester, Ring, Lizzette story is one that’s mostly in my head. It’s love triangle that is horribly tragic, but it’s also just with NPCs, so I’m just not sure there is any interest in it. Consequently, I’ve had all of those NPCs act pretty irrationally without it making much sense. I think I should either drop their personal story line, make it more explicit what’s happening with them, or both.